The world is about to change for Germantown High School students. If the school closes as scheduled, most students will transfer to Roxborough High School on Ridge Avenue and Fountain Street or Martin Luther King High School on Stenton Avenue and East Haines Street.
Khayriyyah Williams, 18, is the senior class president at Germantown High School. She has been accepted to Bloomsburg University and plans to study criminal justice before pursuing a career in law enforcement or criminal law.
Williams was home-schooled since seventh grade and only decided to rejoin the Philadelphia public school district last year.
“Though it really doesn’t affect me, I feel bad for the underclassman,” said Williams. “Now they all have to relocate to other schools and the schools that they have to relocate to are rival schools like King.”
Williams said she had a great experience at Germantown High School and loved all of her teachers. She said she doesn’t know why the School District of Philadelphia disapproved the suggestion to turn the high school into a K-12 school since it has the space for that. The plan was to unite Germantown High School with Roosevelt Middle School and Fulton Elementary School.
“We never would have had to bump heads with the middle school or with the day care,” said Williams. “Everything would have just been in its own section. I think that made the most sense, but I don’t know what happened.”
Deshawn Brewer, 18, is also a senior. He has been involved in The Youth Network, the Boys and Girls Club and the ROTC, but Germantown High School’s culinary arts program was his real passion. Brewer said he wants to be a chef and has recently entered a cooking competition to win scholarship money.
Brewer said his classmates are particularly anxious about having to attend Martin Luther King High School because students from both schools traditionally do not get along. “A lot of them said there is going to be some fights,” said Brewer. “A lot of them said they might drop out.”
Williams agreed. “King has been to our school plenty of times already this year, just to fight,” said Williams. “It’s crazy.”
Brewer said over his four years he has seen improvement in his own school’s fighting record. Last year, incidents of assault
stood at 27, compared with 43 in 2010. Suspensions have steadily decreased, too.
Brewer has been a part of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown’s After-School Program since he was in ninth grade. This group provides mentoring and tutoring services to a small number of Germantown High School students. Brewer said his favorite part of the program has been creating and donating stained glass windows to schools in South Africa and New Orleans.
“It just made me feel like I’m a hero for some people,” said Brewer.
Jalel Gaddy, 16, is in the process of constructing a resume that will showcase his new skill.
“Not everybody knows how to do stained glass,” said Gaddy. “If I wanted to get a job and they see on my resume I put stained glass, I’ll probably be able to do one for the company and make a name for myself, and I’ll probably be able to start my own little store.”
Gaddy, a freshman at Germantown High School, just made the honor roll. He will attend Frankford High School next year because of his family’s recent move.
Another freshman and after-school program member, Terry Karnard, is still uncertain about his future.
Karnard, 15, said he will either have to go to Roxborough High School or Martin Luther King High School, but would prefer Roxborough because some of his friends will be there and he said he believes it is a better school.
In the 2011-12 school year, 14.1 percent of 11th graders scored a proficient or advanced score on the math PSSA and 17.7 percent did so on their reading PSSA at Martin Luther King High School. For the same year, Roxborough High School’s test results were better with 18 percent scoring high in math and 32.1 percent in reading. Germantown High School scored between these schools in both categories.
“There’s a slim chance I’m getting into Roxborough because they’re only taking a certain amount of people and a lot of people are applying there,” said Karnard.
He said he wishes Germantown High School could stay open. “It’s a guarantee that if Germantown stays open, this program will stay open,” said Karnard about First United Methodist Church of Germantown’s After-School Program.
The futures of Germantown High School-related groups such as this one are uncertain if the school closes.
“I was looking forward to graduating from Germantown because it’s a good school,” said Karnard. “There are rumors that it’s a bad school, but it’s really not. It just needs more students in it.”